‘Machete’ breathes life into box office,

Courtesy Photo / firstshowing.net
The theatrical poster for Rodriguezs Machete

Courtesy Photo / firstshowing.net The theatrical poster for Rodriguez’s “Machete

Coty Levandoski

Remakes, sequels and spin-offs are currently all the rage in Hollywood. As Edgar Wright’s critically lauded “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” struggles to make back its $60 million budget in the two months since its release, it’s no wonder why studio execs are hesitant to roll the dice.

In 2007, filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino released the double feature “Grindhouse,” with the former presenting “Planet Terror” and the latter being responsible for “Death Proof”. The duo’s intention was to hearken back to the days of B-movie drive-ins, a notable chapter in the history of American cinema that peaked in the 1970s.

“In Hollywood, things have a tendency to come back around,” said Greg Kort, a film and video major. “Studios typically like remakes, sequels and franchise films because they’re safe bets with a built-in audience. Just this past summer we saw numerous throwbacks to ’80s pop culture that failed to fill a lot of seats in the theaters.”

Similar to “Pilgrim,” the box office returns on “Grindhouse” were less than fruitful, which analysts blamed on failed marketing for a film that was unable to appeal to any major demographic. Still, the mock trailers that played during the film’s intermission managed to stir up so much buzz that a handful of them have actually been pitched and green-lit for production.

“Machete” is one such film. Starring Danny Trejo as a wronged man bent on revenge, the film’s tone was more in step with the black humor and over-the-top action found in Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” than anything else that’s been released in years since.

Trejo himself has long since been typecast as a Spanish-speaking thug in everything from “Heat” to “Con Air.” Rodriguez, who has worked with Trejo on numerous films, chose to make light of this by driving home the stereotypes that he’s embodied and embraced in so many films.

“Given the right context, these films that are laden with stereotypes can be very enjoyable and entertaining,” said R.J. Colonna, also a senior in the film and video program. “Surely things can be taken too far, and that’s when people begin to take offense. These films definitely have a place in Hollywood, but they can’t really be taken seriously.”

With having spent less than two weeks in theaters and managing to earn back its $20 million dollar budget and then some, it’s safe to say that “Machete” has found it’s audience. A number of critics have given the film praise for being the mindless fun that it set out to be, but others question whether or not the humor is just one small step above movies such as “Date Movie” or “Meet the Spartans”.

Others remain pleasantly optimistic on the future of Hollywood.

“Sure these movies are fun to watch, and I support them when they’re done right,” Kort said. “‘Inception,’ for instance, was a breath of fresh air in a summer filled with garbage. I think anyone who takes something like ‘Machete’ seriously shouldn’t be at a movie theater in the first place … It’s all just for fun.”

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